A second Polaris plane is on its way to India where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian G20 delegation are stranded after a “technical issue” with the original plane was discovered shortly before departure.
The Prime Minister’s Office says a backup Airbus, CFC002, has left Trenton and is heading to India to pick up the delegation. Publicly available flight tracking software shows the Airbus left CFB Trenton at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday and stopped over in England early Monday morning.
“Currently CFC002 is on route. We are working towards a departure tomorrow morning, but recognize the situation is fluid,” the prime minister’s Press Secretary Mohammad Hussain said in a statement.
The prime minister was set to depart New Delhi Sunday night following the G20 summit. However, during the pre-flight checks, Canadian Armed Forces grounded the CFC001 plane due to a technical issue that could not be fixed overnight.
It remains unclear exactly what happened, but a senior government source says a component part needs to be replaced.
This isn’t the first time the Airbus has caused problems for Trudeau and his delegation.
An issue in October 2016 required the aircraft to return to Ottawa 30 minutes after taking off with the prime minister, who was en route to Belgium to sign the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
Then, in October 2019, the VIP plane rolled into a wall while being towed into a hangar at 8 Wing Trenton in Ontario, sustaining “significant structural damage to the nose and right engine cowling,” according to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The plane was out of service for several months that year as a result. A backup aircraft was used to take Trudeau to the NATO summit in December 2019, but it was grounded in London when the Royal Canadian Air Force discovered a problem with one of the engines.
The lifespan of the Polaris fleet, which includes five planes, is expected to end in 2027. According to government officials, extending that timeline any further would be difficult due to the age of the equipment.
The updated fleet includes four new and five used aircraft that will be outfitted to feature the same capabilities. The federal government purchased the used planes from a company in Kuwait, and two of them are expected to start flying out of the Ottawa International Airport this fall.
Government sources not authorized to speak publicly said the first of the new fleet’s used CC330 Huskies arrived in Canada on Aug. 31. It’s expected to enter into service this fall.
Journalists travelling with Trudeau to Asia last week saw a second plane wrapped with the Government of Canada logo on the tarmac and were told it was part of the new fleet.
With files from The Canadian Press